Jury acquits Wellsburg man of sex abuse charges
WHEELING — Eric M. Christensen, of Wellsburg, formerly of Oregon and Wheeling, was acquitted Thursday by an Ohio County jury of six counts of first-degree sexual assault of a child.
The acquittal followed a three-day jury trial conducted before 1st Judicial Circuit Judge David J. Sims. The jury deliberated for approximately two hours before returning its verdict.
The accuser alleged that Christensen assaulted her on as many as nine occasions between 2008 and 2009. At trial, the defense called a pediatrician and child trauma specialist, Dr. Stephen Guertin, of Michigan, who testified that the accuser’s allegations were not supported by the physical evidence.
Christensen’s lawyer, Robert McCoid, contended the prosecution’s case lacked any physical or eyewitness evidence to substantiate its allegations.
He said also, to the extent that there was physical evidence, it contradicted Christensen’s accuser, who is now an adult.
“The jury system works, and it works very well,” McCoid said. “Cases like these turn on the credibility of an accuser, and the jury apparently discounted Mr. Christensen’s accuser’s account of what she maintained happened given the disconnect between her word and the physical evidence.”
Ohio County Assistant Prosecutor Jenna Perkins, who presented the state’s case, could not be reached for comment on the trial proceedings.